Star Trek: Picard season 2 episode 9 review: “How do you solve a problem like the Borg Queen?”

Warning: This Star Trek: Picard season 2, episode 9 review contains major spoilers – many of them set to stun. Boldly go further at your own risk…

The penultimate episode of Star Trek: Picard season 2 is titled ‘Hide and Seek’, but a more accurate name might have been ‘How do you solve a problem like the Borg Queen?’ The figurehead of the cyborg Collective has been one of the standout characters of the season – whether she’s inhabiting Agnes Jurati’s body or not – but as the story arc gets closer to its conclusion, she’s turned into something of a distraction. 

The Queen’s presence in the 21st century was always an entertaining narrative convenience, her mastery of the space-time continuum the means by which Picard and co. traveled back in order to save the future. But with her impressive arsenal of witty putdowns and knack for stirring things up, she’s been a welcome – if antagonistic – addition to the crew. Unfortunately, in ‘Hide and Seek’ she’s starting to get in the way.

It’s as if the writing team didn’t want to deal with the Q/Soong/Renée Picard conundrum until the Borg interloper was safely removed from the equation, and her over-involvement here makes the episode feel rather anticlimactic and flat. This is the TV equivalent of a holding pattern, when the story should be warping towards the finish line. 

That’s not to say the episode is quiet or dull. In fact, this is the most action-packed outing of the season so far, as Queen Agnes’s army of insta-drones goes into full-on attack mode in a bid to take control of La Sirena. Nods to the likes of Aliens and Star Trek: First Contact are everywhere – the repeated use of very Borgy lasers, albeit green rather than red, is a neat touch – though it’s nowhere near as accomplished as the action classics it imitates.

As the crew of La Sirena reluctantly play soldiers, Picard uses his knowledge of the chateau and its numerous secret passages to marshal the fight back. Leading the opposition is Adam Soong, who has – rather unconvincingly – morphed from disgraced scientist to military leader in what seems like the blink of an eye. As with the Borg Queen, a promising character has become surplus to requirements as the story strains to keep him relevant.

While it makes sense that a man as ruthlessly ambitious as Soong would be desperate to ensure his legacy – especially now that the product of his life’s work, Kore, has rejected him – it doesn’t ring true that he’s betting everything on the word of a strange cyborg woman he’s only just met, however appealing the idea of being the ‘saviour’ of a dystopian future might be. Indeed, If Soong wasn’t played by Star Trek legend Brent Spiner, it’s unlikely he’d still have a part to play in the story.

And if you were expecting that big showdown between Q and his old sparring partner Jean-Luc, well, that’s going to have to wait. Instead, the legendary former captain of the Enterprise is distracted by further trips down memory lane, as the episode continues ‘Monsters’’ excessive flashbacks to his childhood. This is somewhat problematic.

Firstly, the idea that Picard would start to daydream in the midst of a heated battle is insulting to both the character and the audience. But more importantly, everything we learn about his past adds little to Trek mythology.

‘Monsters’ made it pretty clear that Picard lost his mother in tragic circumstances, so the revelation that she hanged herself – and that he feels responsible for her death – isn’t quite the bombshell the writers clearly think it is. It’s also questionable whether Jean-Luc Picard needed a tragic backstory – if this is the show’s way of explaining away his subsequent well-publicised attachment issues, it’s an over-simplistic and cheap move.

With Picard spending most of the episode indulging in painful nostalgia, it’s left to Raffi and Seven to save the day on La Sirena, where Queen Agnes is plotting to use the ship to establish a new Collective. Unexpected help comes in the form of a holographic Elnor, conjured up by Jurati (still lurking inside that shared mind) to keep the Queen from the ship’s security codes. Whether his return is the most ridiculous element of the episode is debatable – it’s a competitive field – but he does, at least, help Raffi confront her guilt over his death. That said, if La Sirena has the ability to recreate any crew member as an emergency hologram, you have to wonder why the 25th century isn’t packed with virtual avatars of resurrected dead people. And whether – after the ridiculous plot twists in the Discovery season 4 finale – it’s possible for a key Trek character to die and stay dead.

At least, in what would seem to be her final appearance, Queen Agnes manages to make a nuisance of herself. And after leaving Seven critically wounded with one of her tentacles, she seemingly has the upper hand, until Jurati employs a tactic that rarely works on the traditionally ruthless Borg – diplomacy.

Voyager’s numerous encounters with the Collective did plenty to neuter Star Trek’s greatest villains, but this week’s resolution is up there with the most contrived. Despite previous episodes’ efforts to establish the Queen’s constant desire for connection, there’s been little hint that she might actually listen to the owner of her host body. So Agnes persuades her to head into the galaxy to create a new, altruistic Collective, it feels we’ve crossed over into a bizarre parallel dimension.

How do you solve a problem like the Borg Queen? On the evidence of ‘Hide and Seek’, we’re still looking for an answer.


New episodes of Star Trek: Picard season 2 beam onto Paramount Plus (US) and Crave (Canada) on Thursdays. Viewers elsewhere can watch the show on Amazon Prime Video on Fridays. For more Trek action, check out our reviews of Star Trek: Discovery season 4.

The Verdict

2.5

2.5 out of 5

Star Trek: Picard season 2 episode 9 review: “How do you solve a problem like the Borg Queen?”

With no Q, no Renée Picard, and no Europa mission, ‘Hide and Seek’ is an unnecessary detour from the season’s core arc. It has enough entertaining moments to pass the time, but next week’s finale needs to up its game.

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